On 25 October 1723, six days before his death, Cosimo III distributed a final proclamation commanding that Tuscany shall stay independent; Anna Maria Luisa shall succeed uninhibited after Gian Gastone; the Grand Duke reserves the right to choose his successor. Unfortunately for Cosimo, Europe completely ignored it. Gian Gastone, now the Grand Duke, and Anna Maria Luisa were not on good terms. He despised the Electress for engineering his unhappy marriage with Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg, while she detested his liberal policies: he repealed all of his father’s anti-Semitic statutes and revelled in upsetting her. Consequently, the Electress was compelled to abandon her apartment in the left wing of the royal palace, the Pitti, for the Villa La Quiete. She refurbished La Quiete’s house and gardens with the assistance of Sebastiano Rapi, the gardener of the Boboli Gardens, and the architects Giovanni Battista Foggini and Paolo Giovanozzi. In the period 1722–1725, the Electress embellished the villa further by commissioning twelve statues of various religious figures.The Electress became pregnant in 1692; however, she miscarried. It is thought incorrectly by some historians that soon after arrival she contracted syphilis from the Elector, which they think explains why Anna Maria Luisa and Johann Wilhelm failed to produce any children. Anna Maria Luisa and Johann Wilhelm, notwithstanding, shared a harmonious marriage. The Electress spent her time enjoying balls, musical performances and other festivities. He commissioned a theatre for her where the comedies of French playwright Molière were performed. Because Anna Maria Luisa patronised many musicians, the contemporary Palatine court enjoyed regard as an international centre of music. She invited Fortunato Chelleri to court and appointed him maestro di cappella (“music teacher”). Agostino Steffani, a polymath, was sponsored by the Electress from his arrival in Düsseldorf, in 1703, until her return to Tuscany; the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini library in Florence houses two editions of his chamber duets.
Who was the richest family in Italy history?
The Medici Bank, from when it was created in 1397 to its fall in 1494, was one of the most prosperous and respected institutions in Europe, and the Medici family was considered the wealthiest in Europe for a time.
Some years later, as the question of the succession became more urgent, Cardinal Francesco Maria de’ Medici, Cosimo III’s brother, was released from his vows and coerced into marrying the incumbent Duke of Guastalla’s elder daughter, Eleanor, in 1709. The Electress urged him to care for his health and “give us the consolation of a little prince.” However, two years later, he died without issue, taking with him any hope of an heir. The Elector Palatine died in June 1716. His widow, Anna Maria Luisa, returned to Florence in October 1717. Dowager Grand Princess Violante Beatrice, her brother Ferdinando’s widow, and Anna Maria Luisa did not enjoy an amiable relationship. Upon hearing of Anna Maria Luisa’s intention to return, Violante Beatrice prepared to depart for Munich, her brother’s capital, but Gian Gastone wished her to stay, so she did. To keep the two ladies from quarrelling over precedence, Cosimo III defined Violante Beatrice’s status just before the Electress’s arrival by appointing her Governess of Siena. Anna Maria Luisa’s single most enduring act was the Family Pact. It ensured that all the Medicean art and treasures collected over nearly three centuries of political ascendancy remained in Florence. Cynthia Miller Lawrence, an American art-historian, argues that Anna Maria Luisa thus provisioned for Tuscany’s future economy through tourism. Sixteen years after her death, the Uffizi Gallery, built by Cosimo the Great, the founder of the Grand Duchy, was made open to public viewing.In 1736, during the War of the Polish Succession, Don Carlos was banished from Tuscany as part of a territorial swap, and Francis III of Lorraine was made heir in his stead. In January 1737, the Spanish troops, who had occupied Tuscany since 1731, withdrew; 6,000 Austrian soldiers took their place.In June 1717, Cosimo declared his wish that the House of Este should succeed the Electress. Charles VI had previously offered the Grand Duke territorial compensation—in the form of the State of Presidi—if he chose quickly, but reneged. In 1718, Charles VI repudiated Cosimo’s decision, declaring a union of Tuscany and Modena (the Este lands) unacceptable. Hereafter, a stalemate existed between them.
She departed for Düsseldorf, her husband’s capital, on 6 May 1691, accompanied by her younger brother, Gian Gastone. Johann Wilhelm surprised her at Innsbruck, where they officially married. The Palatinate Anna Maria Luisa arrived in was ravaged by the ongoing Nine Years’ War, in which Louis XIV assaulted the Palatinate on behalf of his brother, Philippe of France, Duke of Orléans, occupying the city of Philippsburg in the process.
Anna Maria Luisa arranged a marriage for her younger brother at the instigation of their father: On 2 July 1697 Gian Gastone de’ Medici married Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg, heiress of the eponymous duchy, in Düsseldorf. Gian Gastone’s wife repulsed him, and for that reason, they separated in 1708.Anna Maria Luisa was the only daughter of Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Marguerite Louise d’Orléans, a niece of Louis XIII of France. On her marriage to Elector Johann Wilhelm II, she became Electress of the Palatinate, and, by patronising musicians, she earned for the contemporary Palatine court the reputation of an important music centre. As Johann Wilhelm had syphilis the union produced no offspring, which, combined with her siblings’ barrenness, meant that the Medici were on the verge of extinction.
Despite her mother’s efforts to induce a miscarriage by means of riding, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, the only daughter and second child of Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and his consort, Marguerite Louise d’Orléans, was born in Florence on 11 August 1667. She was named after her maternal aunt Anne Marie Louise d’Orléans, Duchess of Montpensier.In 1713 Cosimo III altered the Tuscan laws of succession to allow the accession of his daughter, and spent his final years canvassing the European powers to agree to recognise this statute. However, in 1735, as part of a territorial arrangement, the European powers appointed Francis Stephen of Lorraine as heir, and he duly ascended the Tuscan throne in her stead. After the death of Johann Wilhelm, Anna Maria Luisa returned to Florence, where she enjoyed the rank of first lady until the accession of her brother Gian Gastone, who banished her to the Villa La Quiete. When Gian Gastone died in 1737, Francis Stephen’s envoy offered Anna Maria Luisa the position of nominal regent of Tuscany, but she declined. Her death, in 1743, brought the grand ducal House of Medici to an end. Her remains were interred in the Medicean necropolis, the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence, which she helped complete.
The “Lorrainers,” as the occupying forces were dubbed, were popularly loathed. The Viceroy, the Prince de Craon, whom the Electress disliked for his “vulgar” court, allowed the Electress to live undisturbed in her own wing of the Pitti, living in virtual seclusion, only on occasion receiving a select-number of guests under a black dais in her silver-clad audience room. She occupied herself financing and overseeing the construction of the Cappella dei Principi, started in 1604 by Ferdinando I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany—to the tune of 1,000 crowns per week, and she donated much of her fortune to charity: £4,000 per annum. This is equivalent to £681,169 in present-day terms. On 18 February 1743, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, Dowager Electress Palatine, died of an “oppression on the breast”. Sir Horace Mann, 1st Baronet, a British resident in Florence, recalled in a letter that “The common people are convinced she went off in a hurricane of wind; a most violent one began this morning and lasted for about two hours, and now the sun shines as bright as ever…” The royal line of the House of Medici became extinct with her death. Her will, having been completed just months before, according to Sir Horace Mann, left £500,000 worth of jewellery to the Grand Duke Francis and her lands in the former Duchy of Urbino to the Marquis Rinuccini, her main executor and a minister under her father, Cosimo III. She was interred in the crypt that she helped to complete in San Lorenzo; although not entirely finished at the time of her death, her testament stipulated that part of the revenue of her estate should “be used to continue, finish and perfect…the said famous chapel San Lorenzo”.
Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici (11 August 1667 – 18 February 1743) was an Italian noblewoman who was the last lineal descendant of the main branch of the House of Medici. A patron of the arts, she bequeathed the Medicis’ large art collection, including the contents of the Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti and the Medicean villas, which she inherited upon her brother Gian Gastone’s death in 1737, and her Palatine treasures to the Tuscan state, on the condition that no part of it could be removed from “the Capital of the grand ducal State….[and from] the succession of His Serene Grand Duke.”Gian Gastone died from “an accumulation of diseases” on 9 July 1737, surrounded by prelates and his sister. Anna Maria Luisa was offered a nominal regency by the Prince de Craon, the Grand Duke’s envoy, until Francis III could arrive in Florence, but declined. At Gian Gastone’s demise, all the House of Medici’s allodial possessions, including £2,000,000 liquid cash, a vast art collection, robes of state and lands in the former Duchy of Urbino, were conferred on Anna Maria Luisa. In regards to this, her most notable act was the Patto di Famiglia (“Family Pact”), signed on 31 October 1737. In collaboration with the Holy Roman Emperor and Francis of Lorraine, she willed all the personal property of the Medici’s to the Tuscan state, provided that nothing was ever removed from Florence.
Were the Medicis good or bad?
Although presented as generous benefactors of the arts and models of Renaissance virtue and ideals, the Medici family were, in actuality,proponents of corruption and absolute authority over Florence through their manipulation of Renaissance culture by using art as political propaganda, establishing literal and symbolic …
In spite of their mutual dislike, the Electress and Violante Beatrice attempted to improve Gian Gastone’s poor public image together. Rumours abounded that the Grand Duke had died; it was a rarity for the public to see him. To dispel the said rumours, the Electress compelled him to make an appearance—his last one—in 1729, on the feast day of the patron saint of Florence, John the Baptist. The Ruspanti, Gian Gastone’s morally corrupt entourage, hated the Electress; and she, them. Violante Beatrice tried to withdraw the Grand Duke from their sphere of influence by organising banquets. His conduct at these literally sent those in attendance scrambling for their carriages: he vomited repeatedly into his napkin, belched and told rude jokes. These distractions ceased upon Violante Beatrice’s death in 1731.In 1669, Anna Maria Luisa was considered as a potential bride to Louis, le Grand Dauphin, the heir-apparent of Louis XIV of France. Cosimo III did not like the idea of a French marriage, and never devoted himself fully to the cause (she was later rejected). Instead, Cosimo offered her to his first choice, Peter II of Portugal. Peter’s ministers declined, fearing that Anna Maria Luisa might have inherited her mother’s temperament, and may seek to dominate Peter II while being herself intractible to reason. In fact, contemporaries thought her traits to be a combination of those of her father and paternal grandmother, Vittoria della Rovere.
In 2012 after concern caused by the 1966 Flood of the Arno River, her bones were exhumed. A scientific examination found no traces of syphilis, which she had long been thought to have died from.
Following refusals from Portugal, France, Spain and Savoy, James II of England put forward his brother-in-law, Francesco II d’Este, Duke of Modena, but the Princess deemed a duke too lowly in terms of protocol for the daughter of a grand duke. Finally, it was Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor who suggested Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine. The Elector Palatine obtained the style Royal Highness from the Holy Roman Emperor for Cosimo III in February 1691. (Cosimo had hitherto been outranked by the Duke of Savoy — much to his anger—who derived royal status from his successful pretendership to the abolished Cypriot throne). Consequently, Johann Wilhelm was ultimately chosen. He and Anna Maria Luisa were married by proxy on 29 April 1691. At the accompanying festivities, a contemporary describes the Electress’s physical attributes: “In her person, she is tall, her complexion was fair, her eyes large and expressive, both those and her hair were black; her mouth was small, with a fullness of the lips; her teeth were as white as ivory….”The same year as Gian Gastone’s marriage, the Peace of Ryswick ended the Nine Years’ War: French troops withdrew from the Electoral Palatinate and Johann Wilhelm received the County of Megen. Following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, a document which had hitherto given rights to Calvinists, in 1685, 2,000 French Huguenots emigrated to the Electoral Palatinate. Johann Wilhelm, under criticism for his treatment of the Palatine Protestants from the Elector of Brandenburg introduced a Religionsdeklaration in 1705, which sanctioned religious freedom.
Cosimo III wished to alter the male-only Tuscan line of succession so as to allow the accession of his daughter, Anna Maria Luisa, in the event of a male-line succession failure. But his plan was met with fierce opposition from the European powers. Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, Tuscany’s nominal feudal over-lord, subscribed, but only if he should succeed her. Cosimo and she were at odds with the proposal. Without a concord in sight, the “Tuscan question” became dormant.
Her parents’ relationship was quarrelsome; Marguerite Louise took every chance to humiliate Cosimo. On one documented occasion, she branded him “a poor groom” in the presence of the Papal nuncio. The enmity between them continued until 26 December 1674; after all attempts at conciliation failed, a stressed Cosimo consented to his wife’s departure for the Convent of Montmartre, France. The contract created that day revoked her privileges as a petite fille de France, and declared that upon her death all her assets were to be inherited by her children. Cosimo granted her a pension of 80,000 livres in compensation. She abandoned Tuscany in June 1675; Anna Maria Luisa, who was less than eight years old at that time, never saw her again. Although Cosimo doted on his daughter, she was raised by her paternal grandmother, Vittoria della Rovere.On 4 April 1718 England, France and the Dutch Republic (and later Austria) selected Don Carlos of Spain, the elder child of Elisabeth Farnese and Philip V of Spain, as the Tuscan heir (with no mention of Anna Maria Luisa). By 1722, the Electress was not even acknowledged as heiress, and Cosimo was reduced to a spectator at the conferences for Tuscany’s future. In the midst of this, Marguerite Louise, Anna Maria Luisa’s mother, died. Instead of willing her valuables to her children, as prescribed by the 1674 agreement, they went to the Princess of Epinoy, a distant relative.
Why was the Medici family so popular?
The Medici are most famous for their patronage of the arts. Patronage is where a wealthy person or family sponsors artists. They would pay artists commissions for major works of art. The Medici patronage had a huge impact on the Renaissance, allowing artists to focus on their work without having to worry about money.
Following the death of his heir apparent, Ferdinando, in 1713, Cosimo deposited a bill in the Senate, Tuscany’s titular legislature, promulgating that if Cosimo and his new heir apparent, Gian Gastone, were to predecease the Electress, she would ascend the throne. Charles VI was furious; he replied that the Grand Duchy was an imperial fief and therefore he alone possessed the prerogative to alter the laws of succession. To complicate things further, Elisabeth Farnese, heiress of the Duchy of Parma, the second wife of Philip V of Spain, as a great-granddaughter of Margherita de’ Medici, exercised a claim to Tuscany. In May 1716, Charles VI, who constantly changed his stance on the issue, told Florence that the Electress’s succession was unquestioned, but added that Austria and Tuscany must soon reach an agreement regarding which royal house was to follow the Medici.Another branch of the family, descended from Salvestro’s distant cousin Giovanni di Bicci de Medici, would begin the great Medici dynasty. Giovanni’s elder son, Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464), rose to political power in 1434 and ruled Florence as an uncrowned monarch for the rest of his life.
The Medici family, also known as the House of Medici, first attained wealth and political power in Florence, Italy, in the 13th century through its success in commerce and banking. Beginning in 1434 with the rise to power of Cosimo de Medici (or Cosimo the Elder), the family’s patronage of the arts and humanities made Florence into the cradle of the Renaissance, Europe’s scientific, artistic and cultural rebirth. The Medicis produced four popes (Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV and Leo XI), and their genes have been mixed into many of Europe’s royal families. The last Medici ruler died without a male heir in 1737, ending the family dynasty after almost three centuries.
Did you know? When Cosimo I moved the Florentine administrative offices into a building known as the Uffizi, he also established a small museum. The building is now the site of Florence’s famed Uffizi Gallery, home to many great Renaissance-era treasures amassed by the Medicis since the time of Cosimo the Elder.Piero’s son, also named Lorenzo, regained power in Florence, and his daughter Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) would become queen of France after marrying King Henry II; three of her four sons would rule France as well. When the last Medici grand duke, Gian Gastone, died without a male heir in 1737, the family dynasty died with him. By agreement of the European powers (Austria, France, England and the Netherlands), control over Tuscany passed to Francis of Lorraine, whose marriage to Hapsburg heiress (and mother of Marie Antoinette) Maria Theresa of Austria would begin the long European reign of the Hapsburg-Lorraine family. In 1512, thanks in part to the efforts of Piero’s younger brother Giovanni (a cardinal at the time and the future Pope Leo X), the Medici family was able to return to Florence. The next few years marked the high point of Medici influence in Europe, as Leo X followed in his father’s humanistic footsteps and devoted himself to artistic patronage.Known to history as Cosimo the Elder, he lived a spartan life but was a devoted patron of the humanities, supporting artists such as Lorenzo Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and Fra Angelico. During Cosimo’s time, as well as that of his sons and particularly his grandson Lorenzo de Medici, the Italian Renaissance flourished, and Florence became the cultural center of Europe.HISTORY.com works with a wide range of writers and editors to create accurate and informative content. All articles are regularly reviewed and updated by the HISTORY.com team. Articles with the “HISTORY.com Editors” byline have been written or edited by the HISTORY.com editors, including Amanda Onion, Missy Sullivan, Matt Mullen and Christian Zapata.
The Medici story began around the 12th century when family members from the Tuscan village of Cafaggiolo emigrated to Florence. Through banking and commerce, the Medicis rose to become one of the most important families in Florence.
After Lorenzo’s premature death at the age of 43, his eldest son Piero succeeded him, but he soon infuriated the public by accepting an unfavorable peace treaty with France. After only two years in power, he was forced out of the city in 1494, and died in exile.
After Ferdinand’s son Cosimo II (who supported the work of the mathematician, philosopher and astronomer Galileo Galilei) died in 1720, Florence and Tuscany suffered under ineffectual Medici rule.
Lorenzo de Medici (1449-1492), also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, was a poet himself, and supported the work of such Renaissance masters as Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo (whom the Medicis commissioned to complete their family tombs in Florence).
Cosimo’s elder son Francis succeeded his father, but proved a less effective ruler. His daughter Marie would become queen of France when she married Henry IV in 1600; her son would rule as Louis XIII from 1610-43. Francis’ younger brother Ferdinand, who became grand duke in 1587, restored Tuscany to stability and prosperity. He also founded the Villa Medici at Rome and brought many priceless works of art to Florence.
At this point, the descendants of Cosimo the Elder’s brother (known as Lorenzo the Elder) came forward to launch a new Medici dynasty. Lorenzo’s great-great-grandson Cosimo (1519-1574) became duke of Florence in 1537, then grand duke of Tuscany in 1569. As Cosimo I, he established absolute power in the region, and his descendants would rule as grand dukes into the 1700s.
In general, the later Medici line renounced the older generation’s republican sympathies and established more authoritarian rule, a change that produced stability in Florence and Tuscany, but led to the region’s decline as a cultural hub.Their influence had declined by the late 14th century, however, when Salvestro de Medici (then serving as gonfaliere, or standard bearer, of Florence) was banished from the city in 1382 due to his oppressive policies and was forced to live in exile.
By the early 1520s, few descendants of Cosimo the Elder remained. Giulio de Medici, the illegitimate son of Lorenzo the Magnificent’s brother Giuliano, abdicated power in 1523 to become Pope Clement VII, and the short and brutal rule of Alessandro (reputed to be Giulio’s own illegitimate son) ended with his assassination in 1537.We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.
Does the Medici family still exist?
The last Medici ruler died without a male heir in 1737, ending the family dynasty after almost three centuries.
Genealogy is always work over generations. Many helping hands have gathered extensive information, and Geneee provides the necessary technical infrastructure. Machiavelli dedicated The Prince to the next Medici ruler of Florence as a guide on how to capture and keep control of a state. He did this to get a position within the Medici court, but it failed. Only in 1520 did he re-enter public life, when Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici commissioned him to write a history of Florence. Pope Leo X was Raphael’s greatest commissioner. He hired him to do a set of ten tapestries intended for the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. They illustrated the Acts of the Apostles, and can now be seen in the Pinacoteca Vaticana in Rome.The next leaders followed her wishes. Anna Maria essentially succeeded at keeping Florence the capital of everything the Medicis created. Florence continues to see about 16 million tourists a year, who come to see what this fascinating family built.
Cosimo the Elder believed war was bad for trade and negotiated the end to a series of wars in Lombardy. This helped establish a mutual territory agreement between the states.Galileo Galilei was the tutor to Cosimo I de’ Medici, grand duke of Tuscany. In 1610, he published The Starry Messenger, where he described recent discoveries he made through a telescope. In it, he noted that Jupiter had moons, naming them the “Medicean stars.”
On April 26th, 1478, the Cathedral of Florence held a public mass with an audience of 10,000 people. Among the crowd were Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano de’ Medici. A group of men interrupted the mass, attacking the duo with knives. Giuliano de’ Medici was stabbed to death, but Lorenzo de’ Medici managed to the church sacristy with only wounds.
Italy wasn’t a unified nation when the Medici family’s power began. It was organized into city-states, contrary to surrounding nation-states like France. Some of these states were Siena, Venice, Naples, and Florence; the last of which is where the Medicis took hold. The Medici family was exiled from 1494 to 1513, when Piero de’ Medici surrendered control to France. Meanwhile, Machiavelli was a prominent political theorist and diplomat. In the vacuum of the Medici, he formed a network with Anti-Medici government figures. Seeing their beloved Lorenzo the Magnificent attacked, the Florentine citizens took matters into their own hands. They captured conspirator Jacopo de’ Pazzi, threw him out a window, and then dragged him to the Arno River. Salviati, a co-conspirator who was also an archbishop of Pisa, was hanged outside the Palazzo Vecchio.This mixture of quick skill and talent charmed Lorenzo, so he invited the young artist to live in his palace from 1490 to 1492. There, Michelangelo studied under the great Renaissance artist Donatello. He lived alongside Lorenzo’s sons, the future Pope Leo X and Pope Clement VII, who would commission his work for their Papal States in the future. So, when Lorenzo the Magnificent died in 1492, Michelangelo’s relationship with the family endured.
On top of being a powerful political figure, he was one of the greatest Medici patrons. He funded several major artists, including Botticelli and Michelangelo.
Brunelleschi believed he could build the dome without scaffolding, but many still doubted his abilities. The Medici family, however, believed him enough to fund this work. Today, Brunelleschi’s dome stands at 375.7 feet tall, making it one of the tallest domes in the world.
Pope Leo X also commissioned the completion of St. Peter’s Basilica. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, attacked his funding of this piece as an example of the Papacy’s greed. In his 95 Thesis, the document which began the Reformation, he wrote ” why doesn’t the Pope build the basilica of St Peter’s out of his own money?”
In music, Bartolomeo Cristofori was the first to invent the piano while working in Fernando de’ Medici’s court. The Renaissance also saw the birth of operas in the late 1500s. The Medicis provided financial support for major opera houses like the Pergola theater.
The Medici family are called the Godfathers of the Renaissance because they laid the groundwork for cultural prosperity in Florence. Their major innovations in banking, art, and architecture persist today.Additionally, it was dangerous to send large sums of money payments across the continent to pay for foreign goods in this era. The Medici Bank fixed this by inventing Letters of Credit. In practice, this could look like an Englishman paying a London Medici Bank in pounds for an art piece from Florence. The Florentine bank would then produce a Letter of Credit to the artist as proof of future payment. Then, the artist can deliver the work, and take his payout of the bank in his own currency. Cosimo the Elder commissioned Donatello’s most famous piece, the bronze David. He intended to place it in the Palazzo Medici courtyard in Florence. This was a major piece because it was the first freestanding bronze cast statue of the Renaissance era. It was also the first nude male statue in the area since those of Ancient Greece. The last Grand Duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone de’ Medici, died in 1737 with no sons. Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici was the only member of the family left and didn’t have any children. With no one to continue their lineage, she knew that the power of Tuscany would go to Francis of Lorraine.Between Florence, Milan, Naples, and Rome, Florence was not the most militarily powerful nation. This made it vulnerable to conquering in a period when Italian city-states would fight for power between each other. However, the Medici family were also astounding diplomats.Before Leo X, Pope Julius II assigned him to paint some of his most famous frescoes, including School of Athens and Disputation of the Holy Sacrament. But after Julius II’s death, Leo X continued to fund his work for the Papal rooms. Leonardo had painted a piece called The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila, based on Pope Leo I’s meeting with Attila the Hun in 452 AD. He later changed Pope Leo I’s face to resemble that of Leo X instead.
In 1504, the government decided to place David in the city’s town hall instead. They oriented David’s eyes to point to Rome, where the Medicis were in exile. Considering that it was originally intended for a Cathedral, it’s unlikely that Michelangelo intended for it to be political. This is especially considering the Medici’s help in his own artistic development.
The government that replaced the Medicis was firmly anti-Medici. David, the biblical figure who defeated a giant with only a rock, was the perfect symbol for an unstable Florence. Not only was Florence surrounded by city-states who always threatened its power, but now, also by the Medicis, who some saw as tyrants. Anna Maria accepted that all the art, books, maps, and houses her family-owned would be transferred to them. However, she created a Family Pact, declaring that these treasures should not leave Florence. She detailed, The statue of David was originally commissioned by the Arte Della Llane in 1501 to be placed in the Cathedral of Florence. The Medici family had been in exile since 1494 due to political losses and would return later in 1512.Donatello created Judith and Holofernes for the garden fountain of the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, as well. It stood alongside the bronze David in front of Cosimo the Elder’s family palace in 1457.
Location is just one part of what made their bank prestigious. The Medici bank also developed some of the financial tools we still use today. They introduced Double Entry Bookkeeping, or the practice of recording a payer’s debits and credits in one log. This made it easier and more accurate to calculate one’s net worth.
The Medici family returned to power in 1513, and organized a list of conspirators who would likely plot to overthrow them. Machiavelli’s name was on the list, so they imprisoned, tortured, and exiled him. However, there wasn’t enough evidence of his direct involvement for them to execute him, so Pope Leo X allowed them to remain in exile.Ultimately, the attempt failed, and the Medici family threw remaining Pazzi members out of Florence. The event only strengthened control of their city and was commemorated in art by Stefano Ussi and Tancredi Scarpelli.
Why Medici family is powerful?
The Medici family is one of the most powerful and influential groups in European history. They innovated new banking systems and laid the groundwork to make Florence a cultural hotspot. Through their political strategy and patronage of major artists like Michelangelo, they created the High Renaissance.
Lorenzo met Michelangelo when he was a young teenager studying at the Academy of San Marco. According to Ascanio Condivi’s 1533 biography of Michelangelo, Lorenzo found him carving an ancient fawn stone head. He praised the young artist’s skill but also teased him by pointing out an error: that an old fawn would not have a full set of healthy teeth. So Michelangelo knocked off a few teeth and showed Lorenzo the piece again. His successor, Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-1492) ardently continued to keep the Treaty of Lodi alive, the document which Naples, Milan, and Florence signed to keep their peace. Lorenzo also earned the love of Florentine citizens by doing acts such as freeing and clothing galley slaves. In fact, Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) is said to have made the piece Pallas and the Centaur for him. Pallas Athena is the Goddess of Knowledge and wisdom, while the centaur represents humanity’s ferality. Lorenzo the Magnificent knew how to negotiate with Naples, even if Naples had a large army that could beat the Florentine’s. Yet, Lorenzo kept Florence independent and safe- Making Lorenzo Athena, and Naples the centaur.Both David and Judith’s stories in the Bible are symbolic of underdogs overthrowing tyranny. Likewise, Florence viewed itself as tyrant slayers, standing powerful against their neighboring city states. Donatello effectively captured the core values of Florence and the Medici family through his work.
What is Medici syndrome?
Peripheral joint and spinal conditions, with the presence of skin disease, are identified in several generations of the family in the 15th century and are presented as the ‘Medici syndrome’.
Scholars are unsure if he meant to reference the Medici family, or physicians [the literal translation of medici]. da Vinci was known to be critical of physician careers, but its meaning remains a curiosity.Even when a High Renaissance piece was spurred against the Medici family, it was still ultimately about them. David’s perfect Renaissance contrapposto and affiliation makes him one of the greatest Renaissance highlights today.
As a teenager, he became an apprentice of Andrea del Verrocchio. Verrocchio was a sculptor and painter who created tombs for Cosimo, Giovanni, and Piero de’ Medici from the 1460s-70s. Under him, da Vinci learned about painting, sculpture, engineering, and metalwork. He stayed working with Verrocchio for a decade.
“That these things being for the ornament of the state, for the benefit of the people and for an inducement to the curiosity of foreigners, nothing shall be alienated or taken away from the capital or from the territories of the Grand Duchy.” What do the Sistine Chapel, the Duomo of Florence, and St. Peter’s Basilica all have in common? The Medici family helped develop all of them. Through a mixture of peace-harvesting policies, patronage, and sometimes personal relationships, they created an atmosphere for artists like Michelangelo to create masterpieces. Cosimo I de’ Medici, First Duke of Tuscany (1519-1574), originally formed the Uffizi to be an administrative building for his family. The word Uffizi in fact meant offices. It opened to the public as an art gallery in 1765, shortly after the last member of the Medici family died. Today, it houses The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, and Laocoön and his Sons by Baccio Bandinelli.Catherine de’ Medici married King Henry II of France. She was a short woman and wanted to appear taller before meeting the French court. So she commissioned a pair of high heel shoes, turning them into symbols of wealth and status. This was remarkable in a time where high heels were reserved for butchers who didn’t want to get blood on their feet. She helped to improve and popularize the horse side saddle, so women could ride without exposing themselves.The peak of their power lasted from 1434 to 1737, and produced figures who would extend their influence outside of Florence. These include four popes: Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV, and Leo XI. As well as two queens of France: Catherine de’ Medici and Marie de’ Medici.By Jacqueline MartinezBA English WritingJacqueline Martinez graduated with her BA in English (Writing & Rhetoric, to be fancy) in 2019. During her time in college, she worked in a Miami-based art gallery. She has attended major art fairs like Art Basel and Art Miami, recording new exhibitions and art trends in her articles. In 2018, she studied abroad in France, where she learned about art history in some of the world’s major museums. Since graduating, she has aimed to keep learning while passing on her experiences to those who are novices like she once was.
In 1508, Pope Julius II, a non-Medici, commissioned Michelangelo to paint the upper walls of the Sistine Chapel. There was a break of 25 years before Michelangelo would touch it again. When Pope Clement VII came into power, he brought Michelangelo back to the altar by asking him to paint The Last Judgment.
The Medici family is one of the most powerful and influential groups in European history. They innovated new banking systems and laid the groundwork to make Florence a cultural hotspot. Through their political strategy and patronage of major artists like Michelangelo, they created the High Renaissance. Such an extended family has a lot to talk about. Below are five highlights that outline the influence of the Medici family over hundreds of years.This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.This file contains additional information such as Exif metadata which may have been added by the digital camera, scanner, or software program used to create or digitize it. If the file has been modified from its original state, some details such as the timestamp may not fully reflect those of the original file. The timestamp is only as accurate as the clock in the camera, and it may be completely wrong.
What disease did Medici inherit?
Lorenzo de’ Medici, who was the son of Ferdinand I, suffered of epilepsy (ASF, Mediceo del Principato 908.
Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449–1492), called “the Magnificent”, was more capable of leading and ruling a city, but he neglected the family banking business, which led to its ultimate ruin. To ensure the continuance of his family’s success, Lorenzo planned his children’s future careers for them. He groomed the headstrong Piero II to follow as his successor in civil leadership; Giovanni (future Pope Leo X) was placed in the church at an early age; and his daughter Maddalena was provided with a sumptuous dowry to make a politically advantageous marriage to a son of Pope Innocent VIII that cemented the alliance between the Medici and the Roman branches of the Cybo and Altoviti families.On 4 April 1718, Great Britain, France and the Dutch Republic (also later, Austria) selected Don Carlos of Spain, the elder child of Elisabeth Farnese and Philip V of Spain, as the Tuscan heir. By 1722, the electress was not even acknowledged as heiress, and Cosimo was reduced to spectator at the conferences for Tuscany’s future. On 25 October 1723, six days before his death, Grand Duke Cosimo disseminated a final proclamation commanding that Tuscany stay independent: Anna Maria Luisa would succeed uninhibited to Tuscany after Gian Gastone, and the grand duke reserved the right to choose his successor. However, these portions of his proclamation were completely ignored, and he died a few days later.
Piero de’ Medici (1416–1469), Cosimo’s son, was only in power for five years (1464–1469). He was called “Piero the Gouty” because of the gout that pained his foot and led to his death. Unlike his father, Piero had little interest in the arts. Due to his illness, he mostly stayed at home bedridden, and therefore did little to further the Medici control of Florence while in power. As such, Medici rule stagnated until the next generation, when Piero’s son Lorenzo took over.
The Medicis’ wealth and influence was initially derived from the textile trade guided by the wool guild of Florence, the Arte della Lana. Like other families ruling in Italian signorie, the Medici dominated their city’s government, were able to bring Florence under their family’s power, and created an environment in which art and humanism flourished. They and other families of Italy inspired the Italian Renaissance, such as the Visconti and Sforza in Milan, the Este in Ferrara, the Borgia and Della Rovere in Rome, and the Gonzaga in Mantua.Leo X’s fun-loving pontificate bankrupted Vatican coffers and accrued massive debts. From Leo’s election as pope in 1513 to his death in 1521, Florence was overseen, in turn, by Giuliano de’ Medici, Duke of Nemours, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino, and Giulio de’ Medici, the latter of whom became Pope Clement VII.
This extract shows the branch that gave rise to the celebrated branch of the Medici descending from Giovanni “di Bicci”, who founded the Medici fortunes:
The Medici Bank, from when it was created in 1397 to its fall in 1494, was one of the most prosperous and respected institutions in Europe, and the Medici family was considered the wealthiest in Europe for a time. From this base, they acquired political power initially in Florence and later in wider Italy and Europe. They were among the earliest businesses to use the general ledger system of accounting through the development of the double-entry bookkeeping system for tracking credits and debits.
Later, in Rome, the Medici popes continued in the family tradition of patronizing artists in Rome. Pope Leo X would chiefly commission works from Raphael, whereas Pope Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel just before the pontiff’s death in 1534. Eleanor of Toledo, a princess of Spain and wife of Cosimo I the Great, purchased the Pitti Palace from Buonaccorso Pitti in 1550. Cosimo in turn patronized Vasari, who erected the Uffizi Gallery in 1560 and founded the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno – (“Academy of the Arts of Drawing”) in 1563. Marie de’ Medici, widow of Henry IV of France and mother of Louis XIII, is the subject of a commissioned cycle of paintings known as the Marie de’ Medici cycle, painted for the Luxembourg Palace by court painter Peter Paul Rubens in 1622–23.Another outstanding figure of the 16th-century Medici family was Cosimo I, who rose from relatively modest beginnings in the Mugello to attain supremacy over the whole of Tuscany. Against the opposition of Catherine de’ Medici, Paul III and their allies, he prevailed in various battles to conquer Florence’s hated rival Siena and found the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Cosimo purchased a portion of the island of Elba from the Republic of Genoa and based the Tuscan navy there. He died in 1574, succeeded by his eldest surviving son Francesco, whose death without male heirs led to the succession of his younger brother, Ferdinando, in 1587. Francesco married Johanna of Austria, and with his consort produced Eleonora de’ Medici, Duchess of Mantua, and Marie de’ Medici, Queen of France and Navarre. Through Marie, all succeeding French monarchs (bar the Napoleons) were descended from Francesco.
Gian Gastone despised the electress for engineering his catastrophic marriage to Anna Maria Franziska of Saxe-Lauenburg; while she abhorred her brother’s liberal policies, he repealed all of his father’s anti-Semitic statutes. Gian Gastone revelled in upsetting her. On 25 October 1731, a Spanish detachment occupied Florence on behalf of Don Carlos, who disembarked in Tuscany in December of the same year. The Ruspanti, Gian Gastone’s decrepit entourage, loathed the electress, and she them. Duchess Violante of Bavaria, Gian Gastone’s sister-in-law, tried to withdraw the grand duke from the sphere of influence of the Ruspanti by organising banquets. His conduct at the banquets was less than regal; he often vomited repeatedly into his napkin, belched, and regaled those present with socially inappropriate jokes. Following a sprained ankle in 1731, he remained confined to his bed for the rest of his life. The bed, often smelling of faeces, was occasionally cleaned by Violante.
After securing Alessandro de’ Medici’s dukedom, Pope Clement VII married off his first cousin, twice removed, Catherine de’ Medici, to the son of Emperor Charles V’s arch-enemy, King Francis I of France—the future King Henry II. This led to the transfer of Medici blood, through Catherine’s daughters, to the royal family of Spain through Elisabeth of Valois, and the House of Lorraine through Claude of Valois.Gian Gastone died on 9 July 1737, surrounded by prelates and his sister. Anna Maria Luisa was offered a nominal regency by the Prince de Craon until the new grand duke could peregrinate to Tuscany, but declined. Upon her brother’s death, she received all the House of Medici’s allodial possessions.The Medici family have claimed to have funded the invention of the piano and opera, financed the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica and Santa Maria del Fiore, and were patrons of Brunelleschi, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Machiavelli, Galileo, and Francesco Redi, among many others in the arts and sciences. They were also protagonists of the counter-reformation, from the beginning of the reformation through the Council of Trent and the French wars of religion.After Lorenzo’s death the puritanical Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola rose to prominence, warning Florentines against excessive luxury. Under Savonarola’s fanatical leadership many great works were “voluntarily” destroyed in the Bonfire of the Vanities (February 7, 1497). The following year, on 23 May 1498, Savonarola and two young supporters were burned at the stake in the Piazza della Signoria, the same location as his bonfire. In addition to commissions for art and architecture, the Medici were prolific collectors and today their acquisitions form the core of the Uffizi museum in Florence. In architecture, the Medici were responsible for some notable features of Florence, including the Uffizi Gallery, the Boboli Gardens, the Belvedere, the Medici Chapel and the Palazzo Medici.
Ferdinando died on 23 May 1670 afflicted by apoplexy and dropsy. He was interred in the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the Medici’s necropolis. At the time of his death, the population of the grand duchy was 730,594; the streets were lined with grass and the buildings on the verge of collapse in Pisa.
Tuscany participated in the Wars of Castro (the last time Medicean Tuscany proper was involved in a conflict) and inflicted a defeat on the forces of Pope Urban VIII in 1643. The war effort was costly and the treasury so empty because of it that when the Castro mercenaries were paid for, the state could no longer afford to pay interest on government bonds, with the result that the interest rate was lowered by 0.75%. At that time, the economy was so decrepit that barter trade became prevalent in rural market places.In 1736, following the War of the Polish Succession, Don Carlos was disbarred from Tuscany, and Francis III of Lorraine was made heir in his stead. In January 1737, the Spanish troops withdrew from Tuscany, and were replaced by Austrians.
For most of the 13th century, the leading banking centre in Italy was Siena. But in 1298, one of the leading banking families of Europe, the Bonsignoris, went bankrupt, and the city of Siena lost its status as the banking centre of Italy to Florence. Until the late 14th century, the leading family of Florence was the House of Albizzi. In 1293, the Ordinances of Justice were enacted; effectively, they became the constitution of the Republic of Florence throughout the Italian Renaissance. The city’s numerous luxurious palazzi were becoming surrounded by townhouses built by the prospering merchant class.
The Pazzi conspiracy of 1478 was an attempt to depose the Medici family by killing Lorenzo with his younger brother Giuliano during Easter services; the assassination attempt ended with the death of Giuliano and an injured Lorenzo. The conspiracy involved the Pazzi and Salviati families, both rival banking families seeking to end the influence of the Medici, as well as the priest presiding over the church services, the Archbishop of Pisa, and even Pope Sixtus IV to a degree. The conspirators approached Sixtus IV in the hopes of gaining his approval, as he and the Medici had a long rivalry themselves, but the pope gave no official sanction to the plan. Despite his refusal of official approval, the pope nonetheless allowed the plot to proceed without interfering, and, after the failed assassination of Lorenzo, also gave dispensation for crimes done in the service of the church. After this, Lorenzo adopted his brother’s illegitimate son Giulio de’ Medici (1478–1535), the future Pope Clement VII. Lorenzo’s son Piero II took over as the head of Florence after Lorenzo’s death. The Medici were expelled from Florence from 1494 to 1512 after Piero acceded to all of the demands of invader Charles VIII of France.Three successive generations of the Medici—Cosimo, Piero, and Lorenzo—ruled over Florence through the greater part of the 15th century. They clearly dominated Florentine representative government without abolishing it altogether. These three members of the Medici family had great skills in the management of so “restive and independent a city” as Florence. When Lorenzo died in 1492, however, his son Piero proved quite incapable of responding successfully to challenges caused by the French invasion of Italy in 1492, and within two years, he and his supporters were forced into exile and replaced with a republican government.
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The electress donated much of her fortune to charity: £4,000 a month. On 19 February 1743, she died, and the grand ducal line of the House of Medici died with her. The Florentines grieved her, and she was interred in the crypt that she helped to complete, San Lorenzo.The Medici briefly became leaders of Christendom through their two famous 16th century popes, Leo X and Clement VII. Both also served as de facto political rulers of Rome, Florence, and large swaths of Italy known as the Papal States. They were generous patrons of the arts who commissioned masterpieces such as Raphael’s Transfiguration and Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment; however, their reigns coincided with troubles for the Vatican, including Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation and the infamous sack of Rome in 1527.
The Medici produced four popes of the Catholic Church—Pope Leo X (1513–1521), Pope Clement VII (1523–1534), Pope Pius IV (1559–1565) and Pope Leo XI (1605)—and two queens of France—Catherine de’ Medici (1547–1559) and Marie de’ Medici (1600–1610). In 1532, the family acquired the hereditary title Duke of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany after territorial expansion. The Medici ruled the Grand Duchy from its inception until 1737, with the death of Gian Gastone de’ Medici. The grand duchy witnessed degrees of economic growth under the early grand dukes, but was bankrupt by the time of Cosimo III de’ Medici (r. 1670–1723).
As an Italian vocabulary word, “medici” means “medical doctors” and identifications with the family members as physicians may be found among their names as early as the eleventh century. Fanciful stories depict the images as pills or cupping glasses, a late-medieval medical instrument used to draw blood. Pills did not exist until much later and bloodletting was not a common practice at the time of the first Medici coat of arms. Art historian Rocky Ruggiero suggests plausibly however, that the images may represent whole ripe blood oranges that typically are grown in Italy. Although knowledge of vitamins did not exist at the time, the benefit of oranges for certain diseases was recognized and their association with recommendations by medical doctors suggests to Ruggiero that this likely is the imagery intended in the coats of arms for the Medici family.Ferdinando’s marriage to Vittoria della Rovere produced two children: Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Francesco Maria de’ Medici, Duke of Rovere and Montefeltro. Upon Vittoria’s death in 1694, her allodial possessions, the Duchies of Rovere and Montefeltro, passed to her younger son. Grand Duke Ferdinado was obsessed with new technology, and had a variety of hygrometers, barometers, thermometers, and telescopes installed in the Palazzo Pitti. In 1657, Leopoldo de’ Medici, the Grand Duke’s youngest brother, established the Accademia del Cimento, organized to attract scientists to Florence from all over Tuscany for mutual study. Clement VII’s tumultuous pontificate was dominated by a rapid succession of political crises—many long in the making—that resulted in the sack of Rome by the armies of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1527 and rise of the Salviati, Altoviti and Strozzi as the leading bankers of the Roman Curie. From the time of Clement’s election as pope in 1523 until the sack of Rome, Florence was governed by the young Ippolito de’ Medici (future cardinal and vice-chancellor of the Holy Roman Church), Alessandro de’ Medici (future duke of Florence), and their guardians. In 1530, after allying himself with Charles V, Pope Clement VII succeeded in securing the engagement of Charles V’s daughter Margeret of Austria to his illegitimate nephew (reputedly his son) Alessandro de’ Medici. Clement also convinced Charles V to name Alessandro as Duke of Florence. Thus began the reign of Medici monarchs in Florence, which lasted two centuries.Ferdinando’s successor, Cosimo II, reigned for less than 12 years. He married Maria Maddalena of Austria, with whom he had his eight children, including Margherita de’ Medici, Ferdinando II de’ Medici, and an Anna de’ Medici. He is most remembered as the patron of astronomer Galileo Galilei, whose 1610 treatise, Sidereus Nuncius, was dedicated to him. Cosimo died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1621.
Why was Anna Maria Luisa de Medici important?
With this pact, Anna Maria Luisa made sure that Florence kept the majority of the works of art that were part of the Medici patrimony and therefore did not suffer the fate of other art cities which, once their ruling families were extinct or moved away, were literally being emptied of their artistic and cultural … Cached
In the dangerous circumstances in which our city is placed, the time for deliberation is past. Action must be taken… I have decided, with your approval, to sail for Naples immediately, believing that as I am the person against whom the activities of our enemies are chiefly directed, I may, perhaps, by delivering myself into their hands, be the means of restoring peace to our fellow-citizens. As I have had more honour and responsibility among you than any private citizen has had in our day, I am more bound than any other person to serve our country, even at the risk of my life. With this intention I now go. Perhaps God wills that this war, which began in the blood of my brother and of myself, should be ended by any means. My desire is that by my life or my death, my misfortune or my prosperity, I may contribute to the welfare of our city… I go full of hope, praying to God to give me grace to perform what every citizen should at all times be ready to perform for his country.Anna Maria Luisa signed the Patto di Famiglia (“family pact”) on 31 October 1737. In collaboration with the Holy Roman Emperor and Grand Duke Francis of Lorraine, she willed all the personal property of the Medici to the Tuscan state, provided that nothing was ever removed from Florence.
Ferdinando, although no longer a cardinal, exercised much influence at successive conclaves. In 1605, Ferdinando succeeded in getting his candidate, Alessandro de’ Medici, elected Pope Leo XI. He died the same month, but his successor, Pope Paul V, was also pro-Medici. Ferdinando’s pro-papal foreign policy, however, had drawbacks. Tuscany was overrun with religious orders, not all of whom were obliged to pay taxes. Ferdinando died in 1609, leaving an affluent realm; his inaction in international affairs, however, would have long-reaching consequences down the line. Ferdinando eagerly assumed the government of Tuscany. He commanded the draining of the Tuscan marshlands, built a road network in southern Tuscany and cultivated trade in Livorno. To augment the Tuscan silk industry, he oversaw the planting of mulberry trees along the major roads (silk worms feed on mulberry leaves). In foreign affairs, he shifted Tuscany away from Habsburg hegemony by marrying the first non-Habsburg marriage candidate since Alessandro, Christina of Lorraine, a granddaughter of Catherine de’ Medici. The Spanish reaction was to construct a citadel on their portion of the island of Elba. To strengthen the new Franco-Tuscan alliance, he married his niece, Marie, to Henry IV of France. Henry explicitly stated that he would defend Tuscany from Spanish aggression, but later reneged, after which Ferdinando was forced to marry his heir, Cosimo, to Maria Maddalena of Austria to assuage Spain (where Maria Maddalena’s sister Margaret was the incumbent Queen consort). Ferdinando also sponsored a Tuscan expedition to the New World with the intention of establishing a Tuscan colony, an enterprise that brought no result for permanent colonial acquisitions. The simplest, though also unproven, theory suggests that the balls represented coins copied from the coat of arms of the Guild of Moneychangers (Arte del Cambio) to which the Medici belonged. That shield was red strewn with Byzantine coins (bezants). The number of balls also varied with time, as shown below. It has also been argued that these coins referenced the three coins or golden balls associated with St. Nicholas, particularly as the saint was invoked by Italian bankers as they took oaths.The Medici family came from the agricultural Mugello region north of Florence, and they are first mentioned in a document of 1230. The origin of the name is uncertain. Medici is the plural of medico, meaning “medical doctor”. The dynasty began with the founding of the Medici Bank in Florence in 1397.
Members of the family rose to some prominence in the early 14th century in the wool trade, especially with France and Spain. Despite the presence of some Medici in the city’s government institutions, they were still far less notable than other outstanding families such as the Albizzi or the Strozzi. One Salvestro de’ Medici was speaker of the woolmakers’ guild during the Ciompi revolt of 1378–82, and one Antonio de’ Medici was exiled from Florence in 1396. Involvement in another plot in 1400 caused all branches of the family to be banned from Florentine politics for twenty years, with the exception of two.
The Medici lacked male heirs, and by 1705, the grand ducal treasury was virtually bankrupt. In comparison to the 17th century, the population of Florence declined by 50%, and the population of the grand duchy as a whole declined by an estimated 40%. Cosimo desperately tried to reach a settlement with the European powers, but Tuscany’s legal status was very complicated: the area of the grand duchy formerly comprising the Republic of Siena was technically a Spanish fief, while the territory of the old Republic of Florence was thought to be under imperial suzerainty. Upon the death of his first son, Cosimo contemplated restoring the Florentine republic, either upon Anna Maria Luisa’s death, or on his own, if he predeceased her. The restoration of the republic would entail resigning Siena to the Holy Roman Empire, but, regardless, it was vehemently endorsed by his government. Europe largely ignored Cosimo’s plan. Only Great Britain and the Dutch Republic gave any credence to it, and the plan ultimately died with Cosimo III in 1723.
In 1534, following a lengthy illness, Pope Clement VII died—and with him the stability of the Medici’s “senior” branch. In 1535, Ippolito Cardinal de’ Medici died under mysterious circumstances. In 1536, Alessandro de’ Medici married Charles V’s daughter, Margaret of Austria; however, the following year he was assassinated by a resentful cousin, Lorenzino de’ Medici. The deaths of Alessandro and Ippolito enabled the Medici’s “junior” branch to lead Florence.
How rich was the Medici family?
How rich were the Medici? They were on a level with today’s billionaires – that’s the kind of scale that we’re looking at. When Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici died in 1429, he left an estimated fortune of 180,000 gold florins.
As a consequence, the grand duchy expired and the territory became a secundogeniture of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty. The first grand duke of the new dynasty, Francis I, was a great-great-great-grandson of Francesco I de’ Medici, thus he continued the Medicean Dynasty on the throne of Tuscany through the female line. The Habsburgs were deposed in favor of the House of Bourbon-Parma in 1801 (themselves deposed in 1807), but were later restored at the Congress of Vienna. Tuscany became a province of the United Kingdom of Italy in 1861. However, several extant branches of the House of Medici survive, including the Princes of Ottajano, the Medici Tornaquinci, and the Verona Medici Counts of Caprara and Gavardo. (see Medici family tree)The “augmented coat of arms of the Medici, Or, five balls in orle gules, in chief a larger one of the arms of France (viz. Azure, three fleurs-de-lis or) was granted by Louis XI in 1465.The Medici family was connected to most other elite families of the time through marriages of convenience, partnerships, or employment, so the family had a central position in the social network: several families had systematic access to the rest of the elite families only through the Medici, perhaps similar to banking relationships. Some examples of these families include the Bardi, Altoviti, Ridolfi, Cavalcanti and the Tornabuoni. This has been suggested as a reason for the rise of the Medici family. Cosimo III married Marguerite Louise d’Orléans, a granddaughter of Henry IV of France and Marie de’ Medici. An exceedingly discontented pairing, this union produced three children, notably Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, Electress Palatine, and the last Medicean Grand Duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone de’ Medici. Despite all of these incentives for economic growth and prosperity, the population of Florence at the dawn of the 17th century was a mere 75,000, far smaller than the other capitals of Italy: Rome, Milan, Venice, Palermo and Naples. Francesco and Ferdinando, due to lax distinction between Medici and Tuscan state property, are thought to have been wealthier than their ancestor, Cosimo de’ Medici, the founder of the dynasty. The Grand Duke alone had the prerogative to exploit the state’s mineral and salt resources, and the fortunes of the Medici were directly tied to the Tuscan economy. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the Medici coat of arms was initially inspired by symbols drawn from Etruscan votive sculpture, examples of which feature an oval dome with balls (echoing the forms of the Medici shield), as well as six balls within a triangle (as found in the alternative, triangular version of the Medici emblem). This particular influence offers an explanation for the red hue of the Medici balls, the colour of the terracotta sculpture. It would also have reflected the family’s interest in Etruscan art and culture. In addition, the notion of Etruscan votive sculpture would have chimed with the participation of the Medici in the religious custom of offering up votive statues, a practice that recalled the ancient Etruscan convention of donating sculptures in the hope of, or gratitude for, divine favour. Such favours would have included the wish for a strong and healthy family, both for the supplicant and their descendants. In France, Marie de’ Medici was acting as regent for her son, Louis XIII. Louis repudiated her pro-Habsburg policy in 1617. She lived the rest of her life deprived of any political influence.
The “Lorrainers”, as the occupying forces were called, were popularly loathed, but the regent, the Prince de Craon, allowed the electress to live unperturbed in the Palazzo Pitti. She occupied herself with financing and overseeing the construction of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, started in 1604 by Ferdinando I, at a cost to the state of 1,000 crowns per week.
Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine, Anna Maria Luisa’s spouse, successfully requisitioned the dignity Royal Highness for the Grand Duke and his family in 1691, despite the fact that they had no claim to any kingdom. Cosimo frequently paid the Holy Roman Emperor, his nominal feudal overlord, exorbitant dues, and he sent munitions to the emperor during the Battle of Vienna.The House of Medici (English: /ˈmɛdɪtʃi/ MED-i-chee, Italian: [ˈmɛːditʃi]) was an Italian banking family and political dynasty that first consolidated power in the Republic of Florence under Cosimo de’ Medici, during the first half of the 15th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of Tuscany, and prospered gradually until it was able to fund the Medici Bank. This bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century and facilitated the Medicis’ rise to political power in Florence, although they officially remained citizens rather than monarchs until the 16th century.
The greatest accomplishments of the Medici were in the sponsorship of art and architecture, mainly early and High Renaissance art and architecture. The Medici were responsible for a high proportion of the major Florentine works of art created during their period of rule. Their support was critical, since artists generally began work on their projects only after they had received commissions. Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, the first patron of the arts in the family, aided Masaccio and commissioned Filippo Brunelleschi for the reconstruction of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Florence in 1419. Cosimo the Elder’s notable artistic associates were Donatello and Fra Angelico. In later years the most significant protégé of the Medici family was Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), who produced work for a number of family members, beginning with Lorenzo the Magnificent, who was said to be extremely fond of the young Michelangelo and invited him to study the family collection of antique sculpture. Lorenzo also served as patron to Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) for seven years. Indeed, Lorenzo was an artist in his own right and an author of poetry and song; his support of the arts and letters is seen as a high point in Medici patronage.
The Medici additionally benefited from the discovery of vast deposits of alum in Tolfa in 1461. Alum is essential as a mordant in the dyeing of certain cloths and was used extensively in Florence, where the main industry was textile manufacturing. Before the Medici, the Turks were the only exporters of alum, so Europe was forced to buy from them until the discovery in Tolfa. Pius II granted the Medici family a monopoly on the mining there, making them the primary producers of alum in Europe.The extinction of the main Medici dynasty and the accession in 1737 of Francis Stephen, Duke of Lorraine and husband of Maria Theresa of Austria, led to Tuscany’s temporary inclusion in the territories of the Austrian crown. The line of the Princes of Ottajano, an extant branch of the House of Medici who were eligible to inherit the grand duchy of Tuscany when the last male of the senior branch died in 1737, could have carried on as Medici sovereigns but for the intervention of Europe’s major powers, which allocated the sovereignty of Florence elsewhere.
Although none of the Medici themselves were scientists, the family is well known to have been the patrons of the famous Galileo Galilei, who tutored multiple generations of Medici children and was an important figurehead for his patron’s quest for power. Galileo’s patronage was eventually abandoned by Ferdinando II, when the Inquisition accused Galileo of heresy. However, the Medici family did afford the scientist a safe haven for many years. Galileo named the four largest moons of Jupiter after four Medici children he tutored, although the names Galileo used are not the names currently used.
The main challengers to the Albizzi family were the Medici, first under Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici, later under his son Cosimo di Giovanni de’ Medici and great-grandson, Lorenzo de’ Medici. The Medici controlled the Medici Bank—then Europe’s largest bank—and an array of other enterprises in Florence and elsewhere. In 1433, the Albizzi managed to have Cosimo exiled. The next year, however, a pro-Medici Signoria (civic government) led by Tommaso Soderini, Oddo Altoviti and Lucca Pitti was elected and Cosimo returned. The Medici became the city’s leading family, a position they would hold for the next three centuries. Florence remained a republic until 1537, traditionally marking the end of the High Renaissance in Florence, but the instruments of republican government were firmly under the control of the Medici and their allies, save during intervals after 1494 and 1527. Cosimo and Lorenzo rarely held official posts but were the unquestioned leaders.Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici (c. 1360–1429), son of Averardo de’ Medici (1320–1363), increased the wealth of the family through his creation of the Medici Bank, and became one of the richest men in the city of Florence. Although he never held any political office, he gained strong popular support for the family through his support for the introduction of a proportional system of taxation. Giovanni’s son Cosimo the Elder, Pater Patriae (father of the country), took over in 1434 as gran maestro (the unofficial head of the Florentine Republic).
Cosimo’s elder son, Ferdinando, was not yet of legal maturity to succeed him, thus Maria Maddalena and his grandmother, Christina of Lorraine, acted as regents. Their collective regency is known as the Turtici. Maria Maddelana’s temperament was analogous to Christina’s, and together they aligned Tuscany with the papacy, re-doubled the Tuscan clergy, and allowed the heresy trial of Galileo Galilei to occur. Upon the death of the last Duke of Urbino (Francesco Maria II), instead of claiming the duchy for Ferdinando, who was married to the Duke of Urbino’s granddaughter and heiress, Vittoria della Rovere, they permitted it to be annexed by Pope Urban VIII. In 1626, they banned any Tuscan subject from being educated outside the Grand Duchy, a law later overturned, but resurrected by Maria Maddalena’s grandson, Cosimo III. Harold Acton, an Anglo-Italian historian, ascribed the decline of Tuscany to the Turtici regency.
The origin of the Medici coat of arms is not recorded. One unproven story traces their ancestry to a knight of Charlemagne’s, Averardo, who defeated a giant, Mugello. In reward, Charlemagne is said to have rewarded Averardo with the shield mauled by the giant, with the dents in the shape of balls, and the giant’s lands in Mugello.The exile of the Medici lasted until 1512, after which the “senior” branch of the family—those descended from Cosimo the Elder—were able to rule until the assassination of Alessandro de’ Medici, first Duke of Florence, in 1537. This century-long rule was interrupted only on two occasions (between 1494–1512 and 1527–1530), when anti-Medici factions took control of Florence. Following the assassination of Duke Alessandro, power passed to the “junior” Medici branch—those descended from Lorenzo the Elder, the youngest son of Giovanni di Bicci, starting with his great-great-grandson Cosimo I “the Great.”Cosimo the Elder and his father started the Medici foundations in banking and manufacturing—including a form of franchises. The family’s influence grew with its patronage of wealth, art, and culture. Ultimately, it reached its zenith in the papacy and continued to flourish for centuries afterward as Dukes of Florence and Tuscany. At least half, probably more, of Florence’s people were employed by the Medici and their foundational branches in business.